I was a massive fan of Twilight; the books and movies still holds a place in my heart. I thought it be best to talk about this because the very first book was published on October 5, 2005.
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When I was younger I was obsessed with these books and I felt they could do nothing wrong but as I got older, I realized Twilight might not have been as good as I remember. My aunt had all of the books and she let me borrow them to read. I finished them so quickly, it kinda felt like a fever dream. I knew what the story was about, I fell in love (however very misguided) with Edward and liked how different the books felt to me.
From a young age I was into pretty macabre things. Like anything Tim Burton or Tim Burton-esque; basically anything considered to be weird. And that bleed into my reading. Anything that involved, vampires, werewolves, witches, I read and Twilight felt more adult in a sense. I suppose it felt that way because I was entering high school and consumed every piece of Twilight media throughout that time.
As an actual adult now, looking back at it, Twilight is pretty problematic. And a lot of the problems come from the characters themselves.
Edward Cullen, as we all know is Bella’s main love interest. He’s brooding, aloof, a hundred and something year old handsome vampire. So of course, he immediately is interesting to Bella. But he’s so closed off because of what he is and her blood calls to him so they can’t be friends. But he throws that away and wants to be with her because she’s not like other girls and he can’t read her mind.
His “over-protectiveness” comes across as completely controlling. And the excuse that he just wanted to protect her, takes away Bella’s agency as a character. Like she needed to be baby sat just because she was clumsy. Even before they started dating, Edward sneaks into her room and watches her sleep. One, that is very stalkerish behavior and he’s a commenting a crime, breaking into her house every night. How I found that romantic I can’t even tell you.
Jacob Black, the werewolf and her best friend, forcibly kisses her even though she has blatantly said that she wants Edward, NOT him. She punches him and because of his werewolf strength she hurts her hand on his face, which in a way punishes Bella for standing up for herself. And her father who is the chief of the police does nothing when he finds out this situation.
Jake like, Edward is horribly overbearing and tries to tell Bella what she should be doing or who she should be with. It’s extremely childish and again gives Bella, no character of her own.
And speaking of Bella’s character, she is so boring. Yes she was just a human in between vampires and werewolves but she could have had a hobby or something. She has a job which is great but we don’t get to see her do a lot outside of the love triangle. When Edward leaves, Bella is basically a zombie then when Jake rejects her friendship after changing into a full fledged werewolf, again for her own protection, nothing happens.
In a way to give her character what she wants more than anything is to get Edward to change her so she could stay with him forever and then to have their first time together. Okay? There’s nothing wrong with that but those are the biggest wants she has when the story is supposed to be centered around her. Up until she gets pregnant and her husband wants to get rid of their child. There is nothing that she wants for herself.
After she gets out of her depressed state, her goals should shift into figuring out how to navigate the world single again. She shouldn’t rebound with Jacob. She should try her best at school and try to hang out with her human friends. We needed more instances of her trying but instead she throws herself head first into her friendship with Jake which then starts to define her like her relationship with Edward did. It’s like once she learns about vampires and werewolves she becomes above her humanity. Her life isn’t horrible, far from it. And is she really ready to leave behind her family and friends? Because it seemed so easy to do so. She’s always ready to throw her humanity away for him.
Jacob stands as an opposition to that, he wants Bella to live a normal human life but with him, that’s the catch. She can still be human, go to college, live normally but with him. Do you see why picking either Team Edward or Team Jacob is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place? And Jacob is supposed to imprint which was basically him finding his soulmate but Bella isn’t that. So just be together until you eventually break her heart? Great plan.
This has been a sad trend in literature pushed to teens and young adults even to younger girls. The likes of The Kissing Booth and After which are much more recent, show how the main female character lets their relationship define them. After is a little better, I will admit but it still falls victim. They put up with unexceptable behavior and just because their love interest might be bad but has a heart of gold underneath and only the main characters love can change them, its fine.
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It’s as if all of these stories are trying to recreate Beauty and The Beast but completely misses the point. Belle, doesn’t change the Beast. He grows and changes on his own. When she makes it clear that she isn’t down with his behavior, he has to learn how to be human again. Sure at first it’s just to woo her because she can possibly be the one to break the spell, but he genuinely learns to respect her space, who she is and wants to gain her friendship and eventually doesn’t care of she is romantically interested in him. He enjoys her company and Belle sees all of his progress and falls for him because of it. Not because of PLOT but because you can see them organically develop feelings for each other.
Bella, Elle (The Kissing Booth) and Tessa (After) have magical ‘you’re not like other girls’ powers and put up with Edward, Noah and Hardin respectively even though they aren’t even close to being good boyfriends or husband. Again, Edward is controlling and can be violent. Noah is controlling, a womanizer and literally starts like three fights. Hardin starts dating Tessa because of a bet, lacks any type of emotional control and smooths everything with a dumb class assignment.
Now, I know that all of these characters are teenagers and in Tessa’s case a freshman in college, so they are young women. Not every choice made to stay in a relationship or things they have let slide in said relationship is the smartest choice. Because as young people we are still learning and growing but it inexcusable to keep getting books like this marketed to women. Not men but women. It trains young women into thinking this way, that it’s okay to put up with this behavior and that it is completely on the women to do the emotional work in the relationship while the men can do what ever they want.
And its kind of a shame because all of these books were written by women.
I know this started about Twilight but I got on a roll and had to get this off of my chest. But Happy Birthday, Twilight, you will always be remembered whether for good or bad.
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